Eurocopter Makes Progress with NH-90, Tiger and X3
Eurocopter ended 2010 with a flurry of progress announcements, some of which related to previously delayed military programs in Europe. The first NH-90s in the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) configuration for France and Spain both made their maiden flights at Marignane on December 17. The French machine, one of 34 TTHs to be handed over to the French army late this year, is now undergoing flight tests at Istres. The TTH destined for Spain is one of two that will be transferred from Marignane to Eurocopter’s Albacete facility in Spain this year for further development. The remaining 43 ordered by Spain will be assembled there. The first of 40 upgraded versions of the Tiger HAD support-and-attack helicopters for France also made a first flight. It joins the first of 24 similar aircraft for Spain (of which six will be retrofits of previously delivered multipurpose-combat HAP versions). Finally, Eurocopter reported that the X3 hybrid helicopter demonstrator achieved a true airspeed of 180 knots in level flight on reduced power. After three months of flight tests, the X3 “has performed extremely well” said Eurocopter test pilot Herve Jammayrac. The goal is to achieve sustained cruise speeds of more than 220 knots.